Greetings from Beirut, and apologies for the brief blogging hiatus: I’ve been busy, and I anticipate that next week will be even busier than this one. Here are some thoughts on the week’s big news items.
I don’t quite understand what all the fuss is about TIME Magazine’s interview with someone claiming to be an STL indictee. Hezbollah denounced the interview and said that it was fabricated. The Angry Arab concurred. March 14 supporters insisted it was the real thing. Nick Blanford distanced himself from it. The Miqati government has rushed to deny that the interview could ever have taken place. Several days later, people are still arguing about whether the transcript was for real, or whether it was co-written by Condoleezza Rice and Detlev Mehlis on Saad al-Hariri’s yacht off the coast of Sardinia.
What no one has explained to me is why the “damaging” statement made by the alleged interviewee (i.e., “The Lebanese authorities know where I live, and if they wanted to arrest me they would have done it a long time ago…”) is such a big deal in the first place. Didn’t Hassan Nasrallah make the same point himself? None of Hezbollah’s leaders have claimed that these four men are missing or hiding or otherwise unlocateable by the Lebanese police. Nasrallah has described them as upstanding citizens, not renegades, and he has also said that no Lebanese government — not one led by Najib Miqati, nor one led by Saad Hariri — would dare arrest them. So why are people so up in arms about an interview that basically repeated what Nasrallah said?
For a party that is supposedly so dedicated to transparency and accountability, one would think that the FPM would have deployed its media wing to publicize Gebran Bassil’s proposal to revamp Lebanon’s electicity sector. Al-Diyar cannot compete with OTV; so why is this deal being negotiated in back rooms and Riyadh?
I also recall a great deal of rhetoric a few years ago from the FPM about the need to solve Lebanon’s energy problems with renewable sources. What percentage of the $1.2 billion will be devoted to wind farms, solar cells, hydroelectric dams, etc? After the party’s ideological compromises on electoral reform, deconfessionalism, and the situation in Syria, I have very little faith that they will do the right thing when it comes to energy and the environment.
It’s true: we’re finally getting faster internet speeds in Lebanon. I hope this spurs more innovation and independence in Lebanon’s media sector, and that a new generation of video bloggers and cyber-activists emerge who will speak the truth to power, at least while they’re not streaming porn, downloading pirated movies, and playing network games.
Nice “gate” prefix. They won’t be downloading much video. Bandwidth caps are minuscule for those speeds and there are rumors that so-called “unlimited” night caps will be abolished. Plus according to today’s Daily Star, the FPM will hold new bandwidth prices hostage to passage of their electricity plan. Reminiscent of what the FM did before them. See my piece last week: http://bit.ly/qGtss3
HI, QN. I see that your post is not in “hebrew” so I assume you gave thanks to The Resistance and their fighters for ensuring your safety. Note that Israhell has recently invaded Egypt, which is outside the protective umbrella of SHN and it is a good thing Beirut needn’t have that fear.
I love dontgetit. Nicely done.
Renewable energy : I think Bassil’s plan has for about 14% in 2020. It’s not so bad when compared to comparable contries like Jordan or, much better efficient, Tunisia. Given the state of the technology and its huge cost until now, I think your jugdement is not correct.
But the fact is that the FPM is wrong in not accepting an authority to monitor and implement the reform.
Here’s a document from today’s L’Orient-Le Jour detailing Bassil’s plan.
Click to access attach_1063792751_1314281945.pdf
If you can get past the fact that it’s in French, in PDF (!), and uses the most horrific font, you would find some interesting data regarding the plan. I’m sure there’s an Arabic or English version somewhere… Anybody?
So, according to this doc, the total cost amounts to 4.9 billion USD to be financed as follows: 1.55 billion by the gov, 2.32 by the private sector, and 1 billion from international loans. And to answer your question regarding renewable energies, they will get a budget ranging from 345 to 445 million USD, with the target set at 12% of total production by 2014.
I find the plan somewhat sketchy, and a lot of the set targets seem unreachable, or at least the means to reach them are not quite defined.
What is the source of the 1.2 billion USD figure that you mention? I’m sorry if this question is silly, I haven’t been following the “Kahrabagate” since the beginning.
1) The difference is that when Nassrallah said “No government will dare arrest these suspects.” it was an unofficial statement with no legal repercussion. And it was made prior to the STL officially asking the Lebanese government to arrest the suspects.
Mikati has made a show of repeating the Lebanese authorities are cooperating with the STL and will do their best to arrest the suspects, even if we all know that’s bullshit. It’s on record now, coming from the PM of the country. If there is proof or indication that the government is in fact NOT bothering to arrest people and basically intentionally NOT following up on its commitment to the STL, then in any other civilized country, this would constitute a scandal and would be grounds for holding the govt. accountable, not to mention that it puts the official Lebanese govt. in a legal bind with the international community. So yes. I think this IS relevant.
2) The FPM has never been transparent in almost anything they do. I don’t know why anyone would be surprised at the latest. I also honestly do not understand how the FPM followers could be so freakin blind to honestly believe (and they do) that their party is less corrupt than any of the others.
I’ll tell you what percentage of the 1.2B is going to renewable energy. The answer is “Whatever Gibran Bassil decides”, since apparently they want him to be an all powerful czar with no accountability.
Besides, the allotment of the 1.2B is something like:
0.5B wasted or stolen by Bassil and his cronies.
0.5B stolen by Jumblatt, Berri and others.
0.2B actually used for electricity.
3) I’m curious as to whether internet speeds really will go up after September or if this is just a bunch of hot air.
Just found the full plan (in English) at the ministry’s website:
Note that it is dated to June 2010…
Thanks for the link to an informative analysis. I am afraid that the incompetent, inefficient and self serving public sector will manage to keep us 1-2 decades behind the rest of the world in many areas and not only the internet.
The remedy for those that fear monopoly is not the creation of even a more inefficient government one but it lies in creating a competitive structure subject to a modern and competent regulatory agency.
Random unrelated question. And I don’t mean this in a malicious way at all. Just curious.
Throughout the years, many “personalities” in Lebanon were either assassinated or vanished. Inevitably, various conspiracy theories are made, and more often than not, the Israelis are accused (sometimes the Syrians, if you happened to be on the opposite side during the civil war days).
But in all these years, one of the most mysterious disappearances of all, that of Imam Sadr, was never blamed on Israel. I never heard any bizarre conspiracy theories on this and pretty much all fingers have always pointed at Khaddafi. Even more bizarre that Sadr happens to come from the community who’s most vehemently anti-Israeli and most prone to conspiracy theories involving Israel.
Is there some kind of rationale to the lack of conspiracy theories regarding Sadr?
(I’ve always been fascinated by his disappearance and really do hope that the mystery is resolved once and for all after Khaddafi’s fall).
I know this is just one of the many victims of Assad’s brutal regime. But the attack on the famed Syrian cartoonist yesterday should remind all (specially those living in denial) about what the Assad regime is REALLY about. Does ANYONE honestly really believe that talk of reform?
FPMers, Alex-types….I’m looking at you guys.
The 2010 date on the Electricity plan should not be a surprise since even the FPM declared that they do not understand the opposition to the plan that was completed under the cabinet of Sa’ad Hariri. But that is besides the point.
The plan is unimpressive in all respects. Don’t misunderstand me a ny plan is better than no one. It is criminal that after ten years the best that they could do is to present a study that any junior-senior could have completed in less than a semester while carrying 3 more courses and the plan would have been more realistic and carried much more details.
Let me give you two small examples:
(1) The whole renewable energy proposal is dealt with in one short paragraph that probably was written in 2 minutes by someone who is not very familiar with renewable energy. All what the plan does is mention that it would encourage Micro hydro, PV farms, Incineration and wind. No details whatsoever about either the feasibility or the cost for any of these. LAllow me to venture a guess: The Lebanese water resources and topography do not lend themselves to much if any micro-hydro. Incineration under the best of circumstances is promoted as a method of disposal of garbage more than a source of energy and PV farms cannot play a significant role in Lebanon. They are expensive and inefficient. Off shore Wind turbines are the only major renewable energy option for Lebanon. This should have been done years ago in the north. The technology is available, international finance through the World Bank is plentiful and the project is self financing anyway. Demands on the Lebanese treasury would be minimal.
(2) The rate structure is dealt with again in one sentence without any figures. Not one. That is pathetic when we all know that setting up the best electricity production and distribution structure would be pointless if the government cannot withstand the deficit that accrues due to antiquated fare structure and inability to collect the monthly dues. To be a little bit more specific look at this hypothetical example
; A Lebanese family that consumes 500 KWH per month would be charged according to the published EDL fare structure a grand total of $23.00 when in fact the cost to EDL is over $135.00. A simple back of the envelope calculation tells you that this family will be costing the treasury about $1350 per annum. I imagine that Lebanon has over a million households and that many of them do not pay anything for their electricity but if we are to assume that the electricity is available and that each pays his/her monthly bill then the deficit would still be over $1.5 billion a year. Why?
I needed that laugh.
Thanks Ghassan. Privatization or liberalization is a complicated issue with many pros and cons. It should be tackled, but in the meantime (i.e. the last ten years), it has been totally feasible for the state to increase Lebanon’s bandwidth over the existing infrastructure. But both FPM and FM have prevented this relatively simple procedure from happening, holding it hostage to imagined political gains that could be produced by delivering the crumbs of “internet” to consumers. Yet Hamade and Ogero did not deliver and neither have the last 3 FPM telecom ministers.
In other words, as usual, the governments (all of em) fail miserably at doing their main job: Providing services to the citizenship.
Instead, it’s all “politicized”.
And there is zero accountability.
When will the Lebanese people wake up to what really matters: Responsible governance and accountability.
Instead, everyone’s busy concerning themselves with the usual boogeymen (Israel, Naturalization, Salafi overlords, etc.)
DGI#2… CLASSIC! LoL.
BV, there may be something to your claim about the timing of Nasrallah’s statement as opposed to the timing of the article. However, keep in mind Nasrallah’s time-frame of 300 years!
I’m only partly joking there in that Nasrallah’s words are treated as if they come from on high. I think the fact that this article matters says much about how Nasrallah is viewed as being above the political fray. His statements are simply not of the same order as the mundane issues that constitute political space: relations with allies, public statements, authorizing and giving interviews, etc. His statements should have embarrassed his allies, but his words were above criticism and could be put down to high-flown rhetoric. This last point is insidious because it masks the political efficacy of his words.
And, for another thing, could any of them claim the comments were never made? The article can be a political football in the way that Nasrallah’s words cannot.
A few Lebanese newspapers have been promoting the idea that the Electricity plan is assuming cost estimates that are more expensive than any other place in the world and that is why it needs to be revised.
The above view is wrong on two grounds:
(1) The latest Congressional study shows that the base cost scenario in the US would have a cost of about $2100/KW i.e $2.1 million per MW. The plan in front of the Lebanese cabinet estimates that the next 600 MW would cost the government about $750 million which is only $1250/ KW.
(2) The plan as submitted was completed by the previous cabinet and so its cost estimates have been known to the new opposition and supposedly they have given the estimates their blessings. If the cost estimates were proper a year ago then why aren’t they proper know?
You are clearly not living in Lebanon if, as you appear to imply, you believe that outside of his circle of supporters anyone in Lebanon subscribes to the notion that Nasrallah’s words are above criticism or that he is viewed as not being a part of the political fray.
As BV, QN as others said it’s about bogeymen,
Or when the finger points to the moon the idiot looks at the finger
Or whatever the problem is, let’s talk about the Zionist conspiracy and the idiot-state will pretend to do its tough anti-Israel part: by talking to the TIme magazine reporter and “investigating” under the aegis of Chief Inspector Jacques Mirza Clouseau.
The best analogy here is the “Miss Lebanon syndrome”. Problems? Dangers? Things falling apart? Arrest Miss Lebanon because she was caught in the same pic as Miss Israel in some dumb pageant overseas, or more recently go after some guy with a guitar and song on youtube…
Thanks Ghassan for your insight.
Based on the partial coverage of the speech by SHN it looks like he is refining the position of support to the Syrian regime by linking it only to the stand against Israel. This is a worth while stand but what gives him or others the right to believe that getting rid of dictatorship implies selling out to Israel. Isn’t a government supposed to reflect the desires of its people ?
Someone ought to tell SHN that no matter how hard he tries it would be impossible to justify and rationalize his position in support of exploitation , brutality and suppression.
– All those in Lebanon who are inciting the Resistance, the army or kindling sectarianism are agents of Israel.
First the resitance is not hezballah. this is a dangerous misnomour. The hezb conducitng (legitimate) resistance operations to occupations from about 1982-2000. But you cannot be resistance. You do resistance and these are two different things.
Second, I believe hezballah (which is not a resitance, see above) agents are possibly guilty of killing innocent Lebanese. So in a way I am inciting against hezballah. So I am an israeli agent, living in Lebanon. I believe also something like 1/2 the Lebanese hold similar beliefs.
What is next? are you going to ge me/us or what? If not, you cannot be resisting anymore so stop calling yourself resistance. if yes what are you waiting for?
what gives him or others the right to believe that getting rid of dictatorship implies selling out to Israel. Isn’t a government supposed to reflect the desires of its people ?
You and SHN hold to a completely different set of values. The question you ask here is predicated on your ingrained/intrinsic belief that governments are supposed to reflect the desires of their people.
SHN, and many in the Middle East (including the feudal lords) come from a completely different mentality, not “tainted” by modern western thinking.
The mentality in the middle east is still one where the lord/leader knows what’s best for his people. The people are simply “followers” who must not concern themselves with matters of a higher order.
One has to understand this to understand why we (Arabs as a whole) suffer from this syndrome of “sheeplesness”. Why we continue to follow the same leaders, without holding them accountable. Why we seem to have this knack for idolizing “personalities” (the cult of personality, the posters, the chants of “we serve you, so and so)…
On the Palestinian cause, Hizbullah’s leader said “the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Conference have responsibilities towards Palestine. No one should concede one grain of sand or one drop of oil at Palestine’s expense.”
“The Palestinians have the right to negotiate over the 1967 borders,” Nasrallah added, “but talks should not take place at the expense of the rest of Palestine,” he went on to say.
“The problems in Palestine are the result of the occupation and we should therefore tackle that cause just as Lebanon handled Israel’s occupation of the South,” Nasrallah noted.
It’s the middle paragraph I find puzzling.
What exactly is SHN defining as Palestinians’ rights here?
Nassrallah is the Supreme Leader of Lebanon. He does not have to take permission to make divine statements. Such as when addressing his ‘opponents” in Lebanon: ” If you are against the “resistance” then you are an Israeli agent”.
People are up in arms because the interview obviously is a hoax, a plant or someone’s idea of a sick joke published in an internationally reputed “solid” news outlet.
It seems you don’t feel the interview merits serious investigation ?!
To me, someone has been maliciously trying to pour oil onto fire with that bogus interview in Time magazine. It certainly wasn’t any of the accused that reportedly were interviewed that “nonchalantly” did it “a la Libanaise” … or ordered by SHN himself.
The only thing that was accomplished with this alleged interview was stoking obviously dumb M14 spokespeople to blare out their obvious short-sighted hatred of SHN and the Hizb.
I, for one, would like to know who was behind it.
If this interview was masterminded, it was by a source that wants to stoke the Lebanese further on how SHN, Hizballah and the Shi’ites arrogantly undermine them and any state authority.
It has the unpleasant foul smell of a neighboring foreign intelligence service that Lebanon may have been subjected to, through Time magazine.
AIG, report back to central!
Put aside for a moment your position vis a vis the Time interview and just look at the tight logical argument that has been floated by Saniora in this regard:
If one is to take HA at its word that the interview did not take place then that is a solid argument that HA knows where the accused are and is protecting them when they are part of a government that claims that no one knows where any of the four is residing.
Saniora deserves an award for this lesson in logic. Wow.
No, no, no, no … Gus.
SHN or HA never denied knowing of the whereabouts of the four accused.
In fact, they have implicitly made the whole world understand that they are under “full” resistance cover and protection … just like every “other” Lebanese is that adheres to the party.
Saniora deserves an award in logic in what?
At best Saniora exemplifies Inspector Clouseau.
The rest of the FM seem to be willing to relegate themselves as a caricature of a Saudi sponsored Lebanese Benny Hill program.
Basically, Nassrallah is saying that he knows best what’s good for the Palestinians, and that even though THEY might wanna negotiate a two-state solution based on the ’67 lines, he’s not willing to give up ALL of Palestine.
I find it incredibly presumptuous and arrogant for this buffoon (and many others before him) who have claimed to be all about the Palestinian cause for all these years, but who insist they know what’s best for the Palestinians, better than the Palestinians themselves.
How about you dimwits actually ASK the Palestinians what they want? Instead of continuously insisting that you’re defending their rights on this or that even when they are willing to compromise.
The phrase “more catholic than the Pope” comes to mind.
Thanks BV … although I would prefer HA officials clarifying what was meant by these words in the coming days.
Imagine Sa’ad Hariri, Walid Jumblatt, Samir Geagea or Nabih Berri … taking off their jackets and ties live on TV declaring they are not Sunni, Druze, Maronite and Shi’ite … but “nakedly” Lebanese!
Is that a possibility?
R2D2….how do you know for certain it is a hoax? Just asking…
It’s the same way “everyone knows” that the STL is an Israeli tool.
And “everyone knows” this or that in Lebanon….
(Which is to say, people don’t know shit)
R2D2- you are a gem! it’s a shame your analytical prowess is going to waste over there in good old Lebanon, you should definitely provide that insight and talent to NSA, CIA or many of the think tanks around the world who are lacking such knowledge, let us know if you are interested there may even be a spot for you with WINEP or CFR
For one reason or another you seem to have a completely closed mind on this issue. What is paradoxical about the Time interview and that is why it has caused such an uproar that is not over yet is that Najib Mikati keeps on shouting that the cabinet is obligated to honour all international committments including those of the STL. Then HA, indirectly, claim that the interview did not take place which means that those that have formed the cabinet speak in a different language than the PM. I and you .maybe, have always suspected that the cabinet is a tower of babel but this issue has proven to the whole wide world that the PM is only a figure head. And that is a big issue.
BTW, I still believe that your charge that M14 have rushed to judgement is a charge that is applicable to you for rushing to the conclusion that the interview is a hoax:-) Time will tell.
You’re right. I sadly no longer live in Lebanon, but I’m under no illusions about the antagonism many feel towards Nasrallah. (Though it is worth remembering that satirizing Nasrallah led to violence from Hezbollah members in 2006.) My point is not that no one dares to criticize him, but that he’s structurally above the fray. He’s not involved in the cut and thrust of political process. He can say, “They will not catch them in 300 years” but a Hezbollah cabinet member or MP cannot say that. Equally, a media interview with a Hezbollah member (assuming it took place), set up to make it clear that “you will not catch them,” is treated quite differently to Nasrallah’s own words, even though their meaning is the same. Nasrallah’s words are above the political fray not in the sense that everyone reveres them and places them beyond criticism (only his supporters do that), but in the sense that they are articulated at a level that seems detached from political process (even though its not).
That is an accurate take.
The supreme leader encompasses religion, culture, history, politics,military in one figure, a larger than life super human figure that the downtrodden look up to and revere providing them with hope and a sense of pride, righteousness, and consolation. The One-man show is more common amongst the miserable and the helpless, but the shift in the worlds consciousness exmplified recently with the revolutions of the Arab Spring is slowly closing the book on the Hero-Leader/saviour.
HA have played a great gig making a distinction between supreme leader, ministers, military , media and at the same time having this unity between the compartments. This was the secret to their success. But in the end, it was Nasrallah himself, not the ideology, or the politics that captured and maintained a large following not just among the shiaa, but of Arabs and even beyond the Middle East.
IIt feels like Im lamenting someones life after theyve passed away…but I must say given the speeches and events of the recent times and the last few years, the aura of romanticism surrounding Nasrallah has diminished considerably.
Here’s another slight move in Teheran’s shift to reconcile its relations with possible new leaders in Syria…Your read is correct.
It is very interesting that you picked on the change of tone in Nassrall’s speech toward Syria .I began picking those hints awhile ago. Every time Nassralla spoke, He always referred to Syria as a supporter of the resistance, and a supporter of Palestinian cause, but never defended the regime and what it is about.
Few years ago, the late Sayed Fadlalla, in an interview, while discussing the Turkish Islamite parties and their success in winning election and accepting democracy as a form of government, He was the first to publicly warned the Syrian regime( He said “ our brothers in Syria”) that It can not sustain its rule over the Syrian people for a long time unless a major reform is implemented .. He said that all Arabs and Muslims should study the Turkish experience, and learn from it, Hint: democracy and elections.
So, Njad’s most recent statement (Wile meeting Emir of Qatar few days ago)about Syria was very revealing when He urged “both sides”, the regime and the opposition to have a dialogue, and stop the bloodshed. Iranians will always look after their own interest first. Iran’s hope would be for the Islamite to take over Syria, if Assad has to go instead of a liberal or secular form of government.
Although there is a Shiia –Sunni conflict, which does not worry me much, Iran and an Islamite leaning regime in Syria would find common interests in being enemies of Israel and the United States.
The fear of a Shiia –Sunni war is exaggerated by many people in the region, and being used to solidify sectarian and political support, by states and politicians alike. But no one wants such a historic and theological conflict to become a destructive conflict.
The Assad family is not more patriotic than the average Syrian ,so no one should expect any Syrian government(Islamite or secular) to give in to Israel’s conditions to peace, or to give up the Golan heights for Western aid.
If the Assad regime collapses, any emerging government will need financial and military aid, and Iran can ,and will fill in the gap, and support the Syrian army and economy. The west would only aid the Syrian army after a peace agreement with Israel(Egypt example). A new government in syria would not be in any position to get engaged in a peace process with Israel .In reality, there is no peace process, and any new government would not accept anything less than the existing regime would.
My point is that Iran could be the first country in the region to abandon Assad if it feels that He won’t survive.
Could you please further elaborate on your assertion that:”Although there is a Shiia –Sunni conflict, which does not worry me much, Iran and an Islamite leaning regime in Syria would find common interests in being enemies of Israel and the United States.”…
“If the Assad regime collapses, any emerging government will need financial and military aid, and Iran can ,and will fill in the gap, and support the Syrian army and economy.”
Iran can not back up this corrupt regime that mirrors the one they have. Do you really think if there were to be an “islamite”(as per your assertion) regime that KSA’s fingerprints won’t be all over it? You think Sunni-Shia conflict is exaggerated? I guess you are not reading the venomous attack against the Sunnis in Lebanon by Qassem and HA.
I really would like you to explain this divine switch that you think a bankrupt Iran is capable of!
I think he means if a Sunni islamist regime comes up in Syria, Iran would have no problem supporting it the same way it supports Hamas.
I’m not saying Iran would be successful in doing so (it would have to co-op said regime before KSA comes in, as you mentioned). But Iran would have no problem trying!
They wouldn’t outright shun an islamist regime in Syria, if they could instead co-opt it ala Hamas and try to have it join the “resistance” axis. Sunni-Shia split be damned (again, Hamas is proof of that).
Having said that, I think it extremely unlikely that such an islamist regime would take hold in Syria if Bashar falls. At least not without major obstacles to face first.
You can bet that if Assad falls, the USA and KSA will go to great lengths to finance and promote a more moderate side in Syria in an attempt at bringing forth a more benevolent, more moderate, less threatening Syria.
This is some of the most outrageous drivel I have seen: http://www.yalibnan.com/2011/08/28/march-14-leaders-accuse-hezbollah-of-serving-israel%E2%80%99s-interests/
Obviously, accusing your political enemies of being zionist stooges or spies is a legitimate tactic when employed by patriots and defenders of ancient and historic Palestine, but it makes no sense when applies to the stalwart heroes of The Resistance whose blood and sacrifice protected Lebanon from Israehell in 2006 and, even today, protects the entire Arab nation, not just Lebanon, against Zionazi invasion.
It would seem that the true collaborators are March 14, who mouth their pieties about “elections” and “democracy” but would be only to happy if Lebanon became a prosperous, decadent country, too healthy, lazy and distracted by commerce to battle the Khazar “jews”.
Did you see this? Gemayel (the zionist):
“Hezbollah does not act as a Lebanese party or as a partner in the country. Hezbollah accuses everyone who opposes it of being an enemy.”
Hezbollah does not give anyone the chance to have an opposing opinion, the MP also said, adding that the Lebanese people are the “ones who decide whether to cancel or to confront Israel.”
“All Arab countries are in a state of peace with Israel, in an official or a non-official manner. Only the Lebanese people pay the price of regional interests that Lebanon has nothing to do with.”
Do you see how quick he is to turn Lebanon into a suburb of Tel Aviv? What can Lebanon gain from peace other than shame and humiliation? The idea that someone like him should have a say in whether or not The Resistance is cancelled is an offense against not just Palestinian, but all human, dignity.
I doubt there are many Lebanese left today that believe there is any merit turning Lebanon into a suburb of Tel Aviv.
However, there are some that think turning it into an Iranian suburb has its merits … and others that believe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea turning it into the Saudi Sunni fold.
The remaining seem to have nothing to hold on to but Syria for a life.
And what fold do you belong to?
It seems that the tradition of using the Palestinian cause–and/or the Israeli threat–in the service of rulers or politicians is still alive and well in Lebanon, by ideologues of various movements.
The injustice perpetrated against the Palestinian people since 1948 in their homeland,and against the Palestinian diaspora in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, koweit, and elsewhere, should not be used as a political tool by despots and war chieftains to subdue their population into submission or to deflect the injustice and lack of freedoms expwriences by the Arab populace. Everyone should support the plight of the Palestinians, but the current geopolitical situation is different from that of the 60s or 70s. The rational way out of the mess is to pressure Israeli and Palestinians to pursue a peace agreement and to create a living place for both peoples, with dignities, freedoms, and a just and equitable form of government–either as one state without ethnic or religious hierarchies or two states with a negotiated settlement of sovereignties, rights of return for all refugees, or even a confederation with Jordan… Unless ME politicians understand that real solutions cannot involve clingong to ideologies of hate and revenge, they are not serving the Palestinian cause but their own self serving interests.
….Like in Iraq?
Well said. I’m with you 100% on that one.
Kinda. In Iraq, Iran moved in on a much easier constituency: the shia.
I say “easier” in the sense that there is no Sunni-Shia obstacle there.
But I think were there to be a “vaccum” in Syria, Iran would have absolutely no qualms trying to move in there by putting their weight behind a Sunni Islamist group (if it can beat KSA to it).
You cannot be serious when you ask the question : what do people have to gain from peace? Are you? The better question is what do people have to gain from war besides death and destruction?
Please treat the above as a rhetorical question and not an invitation to a hackneyed exchange. .
The Shia-Sunni conflict is a very old conflict. It could not have been solved 1400 years ago, and it won’t be solved now or in the future. Every Muslim, Shia or Sunni knows that. Except for a fringe of the Salafit movement, No one has any interest in trying to solve this conflict through a war or confrontation. Don’t be fooled by Lebanese media and its assertion that Sunnis are being attacked by Shiia,or visa Vera. Just because Saad Hariri was ousted from office, it does not mean that the Sunnis are no longer represented in the Lebanese political system. Political attacks are the daily lives of all Lebanese politicians; I don’t see anything up normal about HA or Aoun attacking the future movement, which is not the sole representative of the Sunni sect in Lebanon.
I have a problem with anyone thinking that attacks against HA is an attack on Shia, or an attack on Hariri and his future movement is an attack on the Sunni sect .Both sides use these political attacks to solidify their supports among their sects, but neither Can claim a total representation of their sects. The same could be said about Aoun and Geagea and their claim of representing or defending the Christians.
If there were to be an Islamite leaning state in Syria, KSA fingerprints won’t be all over it. Syria and Syrians are too proud to allow that. For the past 65 years, Syria has fought for a leading role of the Arab world. This happened before the Assad took over, and after they did, and I have no doubt that any Syrian government will fight for this role of leadership.
Another thing you seem to ignore is that the day Assad regime falls, KSA’s turn will be coming. KSA is not and will not be immune to the changes taking place in the Arab world. So I don’t put much stock in KSA and its influence in a future Syria.
KSA is least moderate of all Muslim and Arab states, and it has no credibility to promote moderation or democracy anywhere in the region. Let them become moderate themselves first. In other word, you cannot give what you don’t have.
As for the support of the United States to a future government in Syria, we all know it would be conditional to an Israeli –Syrian peace agreement. No Syrian government would agree to any conditions set by Israel, or set to satisfy Israel.
The Egyptian –Israeli peace agreement is open for debate in Egypt, and any similar arrangement would be rejected by any future government ,be it Islamite or not. A true democracy was never on the American agenda.
Iran will try, and most likely will succeed in keeping its alliance with (an Islamite leaning)Syria, but with less influence on Syria’s foreign policy and its relationships with other nations. Iran will work with any Islamite state better than any democracy in the Arab world.
You may call this analysis, or just a prophecy.
Here’s another “prophecy” for you to ponder, maybe Iran is next in line too !
after all they had their “Green” movement way before the Arabs had their first “Spring”
I will bet on 52 all the way. You could call that a realistic one rather than a prophecy. 😀
Wasn’t that Camille “Syria Comment” dude’s point?
… That the regional players will step in lock stock and barrel into Syria?
I agree, and have said many times that Iran can not sustain its system of government for long.
Their fall is more likely after the death of the supreme leader, unless they do away with that position, and reform their election system and allow for a more transparent democracy where elected officials are accountable to their constituencies, instead of the supreme leader.
My beef with Camille was the complete denial and delusion he seemed to live in with regards to what was happening in Syria and who was behind it.
Having said that, we all know that regional players DO like to step in. I’m not saying they will succeed for sure. But it is hard to imagine a vacuum in Syria without imagining both KSA and Iran trying to get their grubby paws involved (as happened in Iraq).
Having said that, we don’t even know IF there will be a vacuum. My thinking was just based on one possible scenario where Assad falls and there is no strong democratic and inclusive replacement that takes over.
Substance over style. Or style over substance?
That is the Lebanese question.
To be or not to be …
Therein lies is the answer.
In 58 talk-backs all is Iran, Iran and again Iran. Not one word on Turkey, check and see. What will Turkey say and do about the future of Syria? not a word? realy?
“Off shore Wind turbines are the only major renewable energy option for Lebanon” wrong wrong wrong. Every study made in
Israel on wind as a source of electricity indicates that in mount Lebanon one can produce a lot of electricity as is done already on the Carmel, Galilee and the Golan. Also for some strange reason the sun as a source of electricity ( direct photovoltaic and via thermo-conversions) is not mentioned. Using both sources and presently avaiable on the shelf technologies one can turn at least one village in Lebanon to a model of a village not only self supplying all the electricity it needs and more but also selling it to the national grid. It can be easily done in less than a year.
Pretty slow in the news these days…
Joshua Landis landed himself a book deal 🙂
Ok … How about this?
The self-proclaimed Lebanese factional demi-Gods have farted 3.5 times on average today.
Greetings from devastated Haiti, I was astonished to see the Haitian drivers stop at the 2 or 3 traffic lights here even the motorcycles abide by the traffic laws here!
The reckless, lawless, rude and insane Lebanese drivers should learn something from the poor Haitians.
In case anyone was really wondering what QN was up to you can try to locate him in the video below, courtesy CNN, sort of like you would try to find Waldo.
Go QN, Go QN, you know it, you know it….
Happy Eid to all, sadly there is nothing to be happy about in Lebanon or the rest of the Arab World.
Vulcan, see previous post
Things are less quiet than you think. Even when the birds are resting, the hand of the Zionazis still stirs the pot: http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/13911-6-people-including-child-killed-in-shooting-over-property-ownership-in-bekaa
Obviously, Israhell is afraid of trying this stunt where The Resistance is free.
A Syrian Economics Professor shares with Annahar some astounding macrodat about Syria:
Most wage earners work for 3000 Syrian pounds a month which is less than $64.
The 10 % of Syrians get 60% on national income while the other 90% get 40%. Note the implications of this:
Assume a population of 20 million and a national income of $40 billion.
If 10% of population get 60% of income then 2 million people get $24 billion i.e. $12000 per person. Not bad.
Now look at the other 90% of the population who get only 40% of income. This means that 18 million people get $16 billion which is about $888 per person per annum.
People are not rising only against political and social exploitation but also about an unenviable economic record.
Berri: The successive administrations in Lebanon failed to build an army, schools or hospitals. Those administrations exposed citizens before the enemy: every southern town all the way to Tariq Jedideh, in addition to the camps and Baalbek were targets of Israeli attacks.
The beauty of Nabih Berri’s remark is that he has been central to every administration Lebanon has gone through all the way since 1975.
That is indeed a gem. The fact that guys like Berri can say stuff like that with a straight face is what’s so wrong with Lebanon.
Not only was he part of every administration. But his militia and his corruption are most certainly one of the (numerous) reasons the state failed so epically.
Kinda hard to build an army when entire brigades defect (6th brigade, etc.) to Berri’s AMAL.
Kinda hard to provide schools or hospitals when Berri pockets a lot of the money that gets earmarked for such projects.
Mind you, I am not singling out Berri here. They’re all just as bad.
But he’s the one who happened to open his stupid mouth today.
Lebanon and the Middle East region needs a new political party and therefore I am announcing an exclusive world first on this site:
You get one virgin on signing up … one more if you can sustain them both on $750 a month … and unlimited access for a minor significant contribution of your personal income over $1000 a month.
Our political motto … We guarantee up to 2 Virgins for $750 a month even before you die !
Well, R2D2, the whole virgin thing is offensive enough from the beginning. No need to twist it any further…particularly in any sentence that includes $ in it…
Where the Brain Dead meets the World Wide Web
Your article from naharnet didn’t say anything about “Zionazis”.
Considering how many Arabs these days are getting killed by other arabs, from Libya to Syria to Iraq, Zionazis may not be so bad. And Zionazis let people vote and speech their minds freely.
More news of sophisticated Lebanese “Madames” and the horor they inflict on their slave maids. we should all be proud
Blogging will return to normal on Monday.
Which Monday? Don’t you observe Labor Day lol? 😀
Labor day is May 1st in Lebanon. Maybe QN is on Lebanon time.
LBC: The indignation caused by one of the shops in Furn el Shebbak selling shoes offending symbols of Christianity has been contained.
** I think it should have been burned to the ground! Next up, Prophet Mohammed Sandals sold by some Christian merchant on Hamra street.**
And 80’s and 90’s Madonna records, videos and memorabilia should be burnt alongside these offensive sandals.
Whatever makes the world go round.
Unless its still flat to some deeply religious folk out there.
I wish that someone would post a picture of this offending sandal? I am willing to accept the fact that some symbols are offensive to some people but to have the government investigate such a peripheral issue is preposterous. I am certain that “Big Sale” was not in a position to force anyone to part with their money on the purchase of a commodity that carries a symbol that they do not approve of.
You can see it at: http://blogbaladi.com/
It is a picture of a cemetery. But Lebanese have proven to be idiotic and provocative regardless. Remember the issue of Rosaries ? Caricature of Prophet Muhammad? …Lebanese will stay focused on their backward mindedness and stupidity instead of unshackling themselves from these insignificant crap. IMO the owner of the store did not purposefully go out to buy merchandise to offend anyone.
Here’s an interesting factual description of a bashar “civil servant”; Landis:
The sandal looks like a halloween-themed thing (bats, moon). OK, not a good idea in Lebanon and in a Moslem store, but this is stupid. The man apologized and was likely careless. In my book, it is more of the “Miss Lebanon syndrome” (see my post above).
Massive issues, scandals and investigations go unresolved (latest being Estonian mystery) and the state is busy with Blanford and sandals. That’s how the state/security/judiciary people keep losing the little credibility they ever had, if any.
Things are always blown out of proportion in Lebanon. For the government to even investigate this incident, is really ridicules. and worse ,politicians cheaply use any incident to show that they are protecting the faith, and that they are better representatives of this faith or that.
Merchants don’t always look at every detail of designs or graphics printed on every item they sell. Most of the time, merchants with multiple locations rely on employees who are strictly “buyers” for the store.
Usually, a Chinese manufactures would send his client tens of samples to choose from and approve. This process could be repeated few times before an approval of items is finally given.. My guess is that this merchant went to china and found a bargain on a line of sandals, and placed a large order, and overlooked the details of the graphic designs on this item.
Looking at a picture of this product, I started laughing because tens of items with similar graphics are being sold here, and in Lebanon.
Crosses and other religion symbols have made their way to graphic (GOTHIC) designs on many apparel items. It has become a trend. It can be seen on items sold all over the world. The fact that a cross was printed on a pair of sandals, some one found it offensive(very understandable ), or some one( politician ) found it an opportunity to create a scandal and get a minute of fame on TV, especially when the owner is from the other side. lol
I bet you this owner will examine every item he orders for his retail stores from now and on, if he stays in business. lol
No comments on the conviction of Fayez Karam?
2 years? That’s it?
Other spies have been convicted and sentenced to death, or 20+ years. And this clown gets only 2 years?
Hey, where are the voices that keep clamoring about “politicized justice” when it comes to the STL? This here isn’t politicized?
It all depends on the “angle” you’re looking at it from.
The current state of Lebanon is a flawed diamond that can only be made to look flawless by the Jeweler selling it to you.
I had a dream in which the whole Lebanese political body and their adherents that cling on for a life through them woke up to find that the rest of the Lebanese had vanished in a mass exodus overnight.
I guess that’s why over 20 million Lebanese descendants live outside that fraud today.
Between the Saudis, the Iranians and whatever and whoever the remaining “devout” Lebanese Christians believe they need to hold on to for a life in Lebanon today which they seem go be utterly confused about (is it SHN, the Assads, GMA, Geagea, the new Lebanese Patriarch, the new Pope, or even the Jews??) … Frankly, I don’t know or give a s@#t about.
So how about the latest Wikileaks re: Berri’s comments about HA during the 2006 war?
Some juicy quotes from the document BV cited:
Berri said he thought Hizballah had miscalculated
Israel\’s response when they executed their kidnapping
operation last Wednesday, but admitted that he felt betrayed
by Nasrallah for misleading Lebanon with assurances of
stability during the national dialogue. \”We can never sit
down at the table with him again. We think he lied to us.\”
Berri then condemned the ferocity of Israel\’s military
response, but admitted that a successful Israeli campaign
against Hizballah would be an excellent way to destroy
Hizballah\’s military aspirations and to discredit their
political ambitions. He warned only that Israel would have
to complete its mission quickly, before a sustained military
campaign pushed Lebanon\’s popular sympathies into Hizballah\’s
arms. Berri then suggested that Israel\’s strikes were \”like
honey.\” \”I like a little bit of honey, but if you eat the
whole jar you get sick!,\” Berri exclaimed, and then threw his
head back in riotous laughter.
Overall, however, Berri
seemed more focused on the need to achieve a cease-fire in
the next \”four to five days,\” and the importance of making
sure Hizballah does not use the opportunity of the cease-fire
to claim a political or military victory. Berri emphasized
that any cease-fire should result in full GOL responsibility
for security in the south, and (amazingly), \”the complete
implementation of UNSCR 1559.\”
These Leaks are nothing but Mosad and CIA fabrications.
we all know that Berri is ” Ashraf al Nas” he would never say something like this about the Lord of the resistance Don Nassraleon 🙂
Nice one Vulcan 🙂
So what happened to Blanfordgate … and how has it turned into yesterday’s news?
Do the Lebanese political bodies have any concrete plans on how to bring our country and economy forwards beyond employing Lebanese into foreign backed financial ploys ?
This is a question directed at March 14.
We all know who finances the Hizb,
I’m still wondering who finances Aoun.
And since there’s no movement on the Lebanese front, what’s up with Syria these days?
Anyone check in on Syria Comment lately?
Our good buddy Alex and Landis still making excuses?
Just finished reading this…
Was the Thief so talkative? 😀
…and here’s his office’s denial (which sounds so lame).
I remember all the “resistance” group jumpimg on Murr/geagea/Saniora etc bunch when Wiki “exposed” their positions….
Off course when the “resistance” thugs are “exposed” it would become a Zionist conspiracy. 😛
Here’s a gem from ???:
““We are proud of respecting the country’s constitutional mechanisms as in the past, we had accepted that we were part of the parliamentary minority, and we now accept that we are part of the majority,” ??? noted.
Now you might think this was A Canadian opposition Leader after elections. You would not hazard a guess would you? 😀
Yes. I was wondering myself, where’s the “resistance crowd” when Berri was hoping Israel would demolish HA in 2006?
It is fascinating to look into the reaction of FPM and HA to Wikileaks: Initially the leaks were a zionist ploy then they became genuine proof that March 14 is doing the work of the US and the zionists and at the moement the leaks are a conspiracy to get to the resistance. And still they expect to be taken seriously!!!!
I know! It would be pretty freaking hilarious if so many people didn’t in fact take them seriously.
Problem is, they DO get taken seriously.
And so many people don’t seem to notice this weird disconnect in logic/rational thinking and constant flip flopping.
It’s like magic!
While we wait for QN to get back from Beirut, here’s an oldie from a Lebanese singer, enjoy !
Since this is about news… Al Akhbar now has an English website. Have to say the quality of the writing is much better than most English language news sites. Here’s an interesting article about each of the sects leaving mixed areas and resorting back to their own.
Sorry Vulcan, but Ricky hardly qualifies for a pure bread Lebanese pop singer. Here’s the real deal!
Here’s another gem (if true…can someone tell these clergymen to stick to prayers? From turbaned Supreme Leader Nassrallah… to it seems a tea leaf leader in Rahi)….What a bunch of clowns!!!
LBC quoted al-Rahi as saying that “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must be given a chance because he is implementing reforms in Syria.”
… as a pure purebred …
New post up.